Gary’s Coaching Thought for the Week

As we come towards the end of another IPL season, I reflect on my learnings and key takeaways. What a fantastic environment to put one’s coaching skills sets to the test. Working with some of the best cricketers in the world in a highly competitive “win at all costs” environment, I found myself challenged in my own thinking. What can I offer each player to help them thrive and be at their best?

Below is a list of my reflections which I hope might be of value to you in your coaching.

Connect before correct: As coaches we arrive at IPL with much enthusiasm to share our best thinking to help each player become a better version. Before taking the time to see where the player is, what he has been working on and how they have been playing, we start dumping our best thinking on what we see in each player. Instead we should take our time to observe, be curious and remain patient before any intervention. Players thrive on connection and we as coaches will gain far more credibility in the change room if we take our time to build trust and safety in the team environment.

Accept limitations in your reach: We need to accept that our coaching style, personality and approach is not for everyone and not every player is going to accept our methods. We need to put our egos aside and realize that there are many different ways of viewing technique and strategy.

Improve messaging: a simple, clear and easy to understand piece of information and how it is delivered is vital in creating clarity. On too many occasions in this IPL I have found the players confused and lacking clarity and direction. This happens not only from coach to player but also player to player. Offering positive options and continued affirmation “in performance” for an individual and team is a great skill to learn.

Provide compelling evidence: Our “opinion” as coaches is far less effective without visual evidence or data assistance. Use these tools, if available, to provide the necessary diagnostic or factual information to support your “opinion”.

All team environments need to be stress tested: I have seldom heard of a poor team environment when the team is winning. Sustainable success can only come if every team can navigate the choppy waters of defeat and adversity. More times than not, many leaders activate the “crisis management” technique to attempt the quick fix. Once a team moves into this leadership approach – uncertainty, lack of trust, panic, emotional outbursts, results first and process second, insecurity, high player churn and blame become the norm.

What we have seen in this year’s IPL has been remarkable with many batting records shattered. If we lose the quality of the contest between bat and ball, we are in danger of creating too many one sided and boring games. My hope is that the decision makers understand the importance of a low scoring contest with the bowlers dominating as much as they have created a batting dominated environment with small fields, big bats, flat pitches and impact players.

Gary Kirsten

CoachED Cricket Founder

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